'They Had No Identity'

'They Had No Identity'

A Woman’s Story Gallery gives foreign-born artists a space to call home.

Empowering Women International provides training for women artists, teaching them the basics of business, marketing and legal aspects of art.

Now, EWI will once again provide them with a gallery for their work.

A Woman’s Story Gallery, 1307 King St., opened in late September and gave these burgeoning artists something that's hard to come by: exposure.

"Immigrant art is not necessarily popular, nor is it rejected — it's just not known," said Marga Fripp, president and CEO of EWI, an organization dedicated to creating sustainable livelihoods for foreign-born and immigrant women artists.

The gallery will provide a place for the artists in the program to market their art, but it will also be another avenue through which EWI can tell their inspirational stories.

"This is basically our outlet for the artist members. This is how we can market their work, and show their work," said Katie McLaughlin, gallery and services manager.

"It's all about making a difference," said Fripp.

EWI HAD A GALLERY space on Prince Street beginning in 2003, but Fripp said the area was more residential than anything else. It never benefited from the foot traffic in Old Town. "We had a hard time making anything to pay for the rent," she said.

After 18 months in that spot, EWI needed to find another place. Outside of a small space in Del Ray, the organization mostly used other venues for events and to showcase its artists' works.

"There was no home for the artists. They had no identity," said Fripp.

A Woman’s Story Gallery provides that identity, giving the artists an opportunity to display jewelry, ceramics, mixed media and small greeting cards. On the walls each month will be a featured artist, such as India-born Padma Prasad in October. "Around every two months we’re going to have a different painter on the wall. We’re going to rotate, and have an artists’ reception every time," said McLaughlin.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday, and on Monday by appointment. McLaughlin said EWI is actively looking for volunteers to help operate the gallery on the weekends.

“We are a co-op in the sense that we have our artists volunteer sometimes. But we’re pretty much looking for volunteers who can lend a couple of hours who can help with administration and help with the basic set-up of the gallery," she said.

Fripp said EWI's Entrepreneurial Training for Success for artists and artisans began in the first week of October. Those interested in joining the program can find more information on www.ewint.org.